As signaled by the blooming cherry blossoms and fast-emerging tulip bulbs, spring is on its way. And what does spring mean? Spring cleaning, and disposing of your household hazardous waste. (Hooray!)
Perhaps you’ve decided to practice organic gardening and lawn care this year and are now stuck with a shed full of chemicals, or you’re making your own cleaning products and haven’t disposed of the old ones. Maybe you’re finally ready to part with that collection of oil-based paint left by the previous homeowner that no longer matches the house’s current color.
Admit it, I got you on that one.
As a rule of thumb, if a product label has the words warning, caution, poison, keep out of reach of children, or harmful if swallowed, it does not belong in your curbside garbage collection. Remember, there is no “away.” Anything sent to a landfill will eventually enter the biosphere one way or another.
These items should be brought to a hazardous waste center and disposed of properly. Most counties in Washington have free drop-off locations for household hazardous waste, others have periodic collection events. Check WA Ecology or the map below to find a drop-off center in your county.
What constitutes household hazardous waste?
Accepted substances vary from county to county, and drop-off location to drop-off location. Visit your county’s hazardous waste management website for its list. As a reference, here is King County’s:
King County also suggests keeping products in their original containers, labeling ones that aren’t in their original containers, never mixing, transporting products in boxes so they won’t tip over, and securing all loads.
I’ll be honest – a trip to the local hazardous product drop-off center doesn’t sound like much fun, but it’s important to properly dispose of these substances. And just think of all the clutter and fumes you can eradicate from your home.
As you go through hazardous products, take stock of what’s in your home. Do you really need four separate surface cleaners when vinegar, water and baking soda will do the trick? Is it worth spreading several types of lawn chemicals when natural products will bring the same result?
If a product is required to have the words “warning” or “caution” on its label, does it really need to be in your home?
Once your home is clear of hazardous products, keep it that way!